WTCR Race 2 flash: Brilliant Homola scores maiden victory
Mato Homola claimed a superb first victory in the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO after getting the better of French legend Yvan Muller in the reverse-grid Race 2 at WTCR Race of Portugal in Vila Real.
Slovakian Homola, who started third on the grid, passed Muller on the opening lap. Once DHL Pole Position starter Gordon Shedden dropped out of contention thanks to a five-second penalty and a decision to take his ‘joker’ lap early, DG Sport Compétition timed Homola’s own joker perfectly to stay ahead of Muller and deliver the team and its PEUGEOT 308TCR a second victory of the season following Aurélien Comte’s win at Zandvoort.
“When Shedden took his joker I needed to push a lot,” said Homola. “Yvan was really pushing me. Then after my joker I needed to push, but I was pushing all the race anyway, so nothing changed. It was awesome. Thanks to all my supporters, my sponsors and my team. I’m really proud.”
Shedden made a good start to lead Race 1 winner Muller on the first lap, but the YMR Hyundai i30 N TCR pulled alongside the Audi RS 3 LMS to challenge for first place. The Scot defended well, which allowed Homola to make his own move on Muller and claim second.
Shedden then overshot the chicane, which earned him his five-second penalty. He was enraged by the decision. “I backed off totally back to the pack!” he protested on his team radio.
The Audi Sport Leopard Lukoil Team chose to play its joker on lap six, which backfired for Shedden when he rejoined behind Aurélien Panis’s Comtoyou Racing Audi. At the front Homola took his joker on lap eight, leaving Muller in front. The WTCR points leader waited until the penultimate lap to play his own joker, but failed to stay ahead of Homola whose PEUGEOT swept past him as he rejoined.
The consolation for Muller is that he stretched his WTCR title lead over his nephew Yann Ehrlacher to 29 points.
Team OSCARO by Campos Racing’s Pepe Oriola put in a great performance in his Cupra TCR to claim a podium third place from seventh on the grid, while Shedden’s team-mate Jean-Karl Vernay maintained his starting position to finish fourth.
Norbert Michelisz was fifth for BRC Racing Team, with Shedden a disappointed sixth ahead of Ehrlacher’s ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR.
Panis drove a strong race to claim WTCR points with P8, ahead of Gabriele Tarquini and Thed Björk, who is due to start Race 3 from the DHL Pole Position.
Team Mulsanne’s Fabrizio Giovanardi was P11 in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR, ahead of John Filippi in his Team OSCARO by Campos Racing Cupra TCR.
Esteban Guerrieri, who finished second in Race 1 on Saturday, was in the wars after Frédéric Vervisch’s Audi Sport Team Comtoyou entry pushed him into a barrier and retirement on lap one, earning the Belgian a penalty. Boutsen Ginion Racing’s Benjamin Lessennes was also penalised for clashing with Nathanaël Berthon’s Comtoyou Racing Audi.
Race 3 of WTCR Race of Portugal takes place at 17h10 local time.